Comment Column: A Model of Grassroots Advocacy

Posted on Nov 3, 2020
KFB 1st Vice President Eddie Melton

I remember well the first meetings I attended as a Kentucky Farm Bureau (KFB) member more than 30 years ago. I was very impressed with the process by which issues were brought up from the county Farm Bureaus and addressed as policy was created and priorities were formed.

I never thought about the history of this process at the time, but in order to get a better feel for how this organization began, all I have to do is look at the processes we have in place today. This model of grassroots advocacy has served KFB well since its beginning more than 100 years ago.

It is our volunteer members who decide what resolutions to bring forth, which ultimately could become policies and/or priorities.  

And the process by which all that happens is one we take very seriously, as ideas that begin at the local level often end up as resolutions to be considered during the state annual meeting. 

Many times, these discussions about agricultural and rural community matters start as simple conversations by volunteer members in their county board meetings.

If those county boards feel as though any given issue is important enough, it can be moved to the state level to be considered by the KFB Resolutions Committee, which convenes each November to review all yearly resolution proposals.

This group is elected by their respective district caucuses and is the body that decides what resolutions will be sent to the voting delegates during the state annual meeting.

From there, those agreed upon resolutions are then sent to the KFB Board of Directors who make the final decision on what becomes priority issues for the organization.

This procedure is the heart of this organization as it relates to the direction we take in serving as the Voice of Kentucky Agriculture.

But local Farm Bureaus are just one source for possible resolutions. The system of KFB Advisory Committees also lends to this process. All agriculture commodities, as well as rural community issues, in this state are served by one of 30 advisory committees created by KFB.

These committees, chaired by state board members, include volunteer members, leaders in the respective commodity sectors, and agricultural experts from across the state. In selecting members of these advisory committees, great care is taken to make sure those chairpersons have some tie to the industry the committee represents.   

Along with discussing issues related to these commodities, the committee members also pass along their resolution recommendations.

Adopting resolutions is important because it literally creates new policy, changes existing policy, or eliminates policy viewed as no longer relevant.

Each year we will see approximately 800 to 1,000 different resolutions, each of which are reviewed. While it can be quite a task to get through all those proposals, it’s important that each is discussed so a sound decision can be made on every one.

My hope is that one day in the future, whoever may be sitting in my position will also see the dedication our local volunteer members have made to this organization through the years and the efforts that have been made to create our policy and priority issues – from the very beginning.

Eddie Melton, First Vice President
Kentucky Farm Bureau